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Can a Felon Work for the City?

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Getting a job with a felony, while not at all easy, is not impossible.  It just seems that way.

Felons are allowed to work in a variety of capacities.

Many of the employment opportunities are what may be considered entry level types of jobs.

Felons who are released from prison are in exactly that position.  They are re-entering society and getting a foothold in employment again.

This blog post will cover the question of whether felons can work for the city.

  • Government Job?
  • One City’s Efforts
  • Making Their Case for Employment
  • Supporting Felons Wanting to Work for the City


Government Job?

That might not be so easy!  Aren’t felons dishonest, untrustworthy, and irresponsible?

It would seem that working for the government at all is out of the question.

After all, the government is the one who arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated felons in the first place.

An earlier blog post found that the government will not only consider felon applicants but will actually hire them.

The government hiring agency involved will determine suitability for employment by looking at the nature of that felony conviction, the date of the felony, and evidence of rehabilitation.

The Ban the Box campaign has done much to help felons get a job with the city.

This movement has led to removal of the question and check box, “Have you been convicted of a felony?” from applications for employment, housing, public benefits, insurance, loans, and other services.

A total of 21 states have adopted ban the box policies.

These states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Over 100 cities or counties have removed questions about conviction history from public employment applications.  More than 100 million people live in an area where the box has been banned in some form or other.

One City’s Efforts

The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan adopted a new hiring policy in 2014, which will help felons in getting a job with its city government.

Their law removed all references to felony convictions from city employment applications, except for those of the police and fire department.

Their policy states that a prior felony conviction will not prevent employment by the city unless there is a direct relationship between the conviction and requirements for the job.

They still conduct background checks but not upfront.  They are held until later in the hiring process when it has been determined they are qualified for the position and have been offered employment.

When they do a background check, they look at a number of factors as follows:

  • Nature of the offense
  • Length of time since the sentence was completed
  • Evidence of post-conviction work of the same type with no criminal activity
  • Length and consistency of employment history before and after the conviction
  • Rehabilitation efforts
  • Employment or character references
  • Other information regarding fitness for the position

According to Ann Arbor government officials, they honor the Ban the Box initiative by looking at felons’ academic history, experience, knowledge, ability to do the job, and consider them for employment before needing to know whether they have committed a felony.

Of course, not all cities have such a policy.  But, with over 100 cities supporting the Ban the Box campaign and with more following suit, getting a job with the city is becoming more of a reality.

However, it is still up to felons who want a city government job to make this a priority and set the goal of achieving that position.

Making Their Case for Employment

Felons must take their situation seriously and have a goal of working for the city.  No, it won’t be easy to get hired.

But there is an opportunity available to those who want it.

Doing the things that it will take to reach that goal and get that city job will be challenging, but what hasn’t been since leaving prison?

Felons need to be willing to do what it takes.

Seeking expungement or sealing of their records can pay big dividends.

They can go through a re-entry program or get further education and training to get the knowledge and skills they need.

The Guide to Getting Employed is available to those who want that goal.  There are stories of success and tips for presenting themselves in a favorable light.

When it comes to their employment record, having a quality resume is essential.

Supporting Felons Wanting to Work for the City

For families of felons wanting to work for the city, take the time to help your loved one in their efforts to get further education or training.

Support them in returning to society and finding a way to succeed and make a difference.

An earlier blog post showed felons make good employees.

The city needs quality employees.  There is no reason why felons can’t be that quality employee.  Be there for your loved one as they work to be one of those who doesn’t return to prison within two years.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a job with the city with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Work for the City?”

  1. Everytime I apply for a Job with the city it is always turned down and it says I can have a felony but I always get a reponse someone more suited for the job was considered.


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